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In the late 1800s, California's first state engineer, William Hammond Hall, and his assistant, a Scotsman named John McLaren, transformed more than 1000 acres (405 hectares) of sand dunes into a wondrous haven in the midst of the city, christened Golden Gate Park after the eponymous strait nearby. Stretching over 50 blocks from Stanyan Street to the Pacific Ocean, the lush landscape is etched with numerous trails for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding, alongside a golf course, bowling greens, a lake with paddle boats, soccer fields and a baseball diamond. From the Japanese Tea Garden and the Conservatory of Flowers to the California Academy of Sciences and the De Young Museum, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park encompasses a wealth of scenic beauty and cultural intrigue within is expansive embrace. There are also several playgrounds, a quaint carousel, an aquarium, a buffalo reserve and an outdoor bandshell where open-air concerts are hosted each summer.
This historic waterfront area dates back to the Ohlone Indians and is an integral part of San Francisco Presidio history. With inhabitants such as Native Americans, Spanish settlers, and the U.S. Army throughout the years, Crissy Field has gone through numerous transformations. Today, the city by the bay has once again transformed this area into a recreational space. A children's swim center, rock climbing business, cafe, sports gear store and other such businesses call the old military barracks home. The space also features walking paths, lush grass and picnic tables. Gorgeous views of the Golden Gate, the Embarcadero and North Beach complete this multifaceted park.
This impressive structure crowning Nob Hill was built on the site of the Crocker Mansion after the 1906 earthquake and fire. One of the main attractions of the cathedral are the stained glass windows. These windows showcase over 1000 figures, with some of them dating back as far as the 1930s. The gilded bas-reliefs that adorn the doors of the main entrance are cast from Ghiberti's original molds for the Gates of Paradise that adorn the Baptistery in Florence. The cathedral also boasts two labyrinths. The outdoor one is made of Terrazzo stone and the indoor one from limestone.
The Conservatory of Flowers, located in Golden Gate Park, transports you from the city to a tropical rain forest, minus the exotic animals. The five galleries within the conservatory include the Lowland Tropics, Plotted Plants, Aquatic Plants, Highland Tropics and an ever changing special exhibit. The Conservatory of Flowers displays plants and flowers in its unique environment, offers guided school tours and is available to rent for corporate events and weddings. This gallery of flowers is a must see for any nature or horticulture lover.
The Ferry Building Marketplace is a must-see for San Francisco visitors. This multi-million dollar development has an abundance of activities for the entire family. This marvelous building was designed by renowned architect Arthur Page Brown in Beaux Arts Style. Similar to that of the iconic Giralda Bell Tower in Seville, the clock tower of this building is a popular landmark and call be seen from afar. Take a tour of the historic Ferry Building, browse through antique shops, enjoy a view by the bay and a bowl of chowder at Ferry Plaza Seafood or buy organic produce at the Farmer's Market. Enjoy the sights and sounds of what makes the Ferry Building one of the Bay's most popular destinations for entertainment, food, and fun.
Sutro Baths was built in the late 19th Century. It was a large swimming pool owned privately by Adolp Sutro, who was a former mayor of San Francisco. It had seven different pools, one having fresh water and the others having salt water, but varying in temperatures. Below the Cliff House, a small beach inlet was filled almost hiding the vast iron, glass and concrete structure. The bath had a high operating cost, due to which it eventually closed and a fire in 1966 almost destroyed it leaving behind the ruins. The ruins of the Sutro Baths are open to the visitors as well as the cave where you can catch a glimpse of bats.
Feel like taking a quick stroll along verdant pathways? Or want to relax on a patch of green as you indulge in people-watching? Visit Washington Square Park and have a relaxing time out with family and friends. Walk your dog, meet friends, hold small picnics or simply get drenched in the lively aura of this place. The whole park comes alive with music during the North Beach Jazz festival. An ideal hang out on a lazy day.
Dolores Park is one of the main hot spots in San Francisco and is the major meet-up place for many citizens. Though it is not very large, it attracts crowds of people and the beautiful views make it worth the visit. Recreational resources include a few tennis courts, basketball courts, two soccer fields and a children's playground, but most of all Dolores Park is often used as a venue for special events such as movies in the park. Its surrounding area is known for some of San Francisco's major culinary attractions: Delfina, Pizzeria Delfina and the Tartine Bakery. It is also a great place to chill with some ice cream from the Bi-Rite Creamery. Saturday hang-outs in the park are often events themselves and it's always packed on weekends. Given its location, it's almost always sunny; the famous fog knows better than to ruin the oasis that is Dolores Park. Whether you choose to sit in Dog Beach, Hipster Beach, Speedo Ridge or partake in actual activity at the playground or tennis courts you are sure to have an unforgettable time.
Often known as the "first neighborhood" of San Francisco, the Mission District is one of the favorite places of the people of the city. The district has its own share of fun places, restaurants, theaters and bookstores and is a hugely popular destination for avid foodies. Spend a day at Dolores Park or admire the colorful murals on the buildings throughout the district.
San Francisco Japantown Center is a major attraction that reflects Japanese regalia and arts and crafts through a number of showrooms, galleries and bookstores. Its almost like a mini-Japan in the heart of San Francisco. Also known as Nihonmachi, the area serves as a rich treasure of Japanese culture and tradition in the form of clothes, literature and the like, perennially stacked in the several stores tucked inside the center. Japantown also has movie theaters and hotels.
Folsom Street in the city is one busy street. This entertainment hub of the city is in close proximity to major attractions and landmarks and is always buzzing with events. A part of this lively street, plays host to the risque annual Folsom Street Fair. Located in the heart of the city, it is frequented by locals and tourist alike.
Constructed as a temporary attraction for the 1915 Pan-Pacific International Exhibition, Palace of Fine Arts & Theatre continues to enchant and enhance the city. The original plaster, which made up the monument's exterior, has been gradually replaced with funds raised by the Marina's well-heeled residents who were loath to lose such a graceful part of their landscape. Swans in the adjoining lagoon glide by the soaring ochre-tinted colonnades and the imposing dome rigged with panels of centaurs and warriors engaged in battle over nubile maidens. Those column-top statues of sorrowing maidens turned away from prying eyes are using their tears to water the long-gone oaks that originally stood in the planters that they surround. Stroll inside the dome, clap your hands and marvel at the uncanny acoustics, then enjoy a picnic lunch on one of the park benches scattered to provide an unparalleled view of this gem.